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New site for smaller processors

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The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network announces the launch of a new website to help the small to mid-sized meat processing facilities that provide market access for niches such as local, grass-fed, and organic.

Access to appropriately scaled meat processing facilities is a challenge facing small to mid-sized livestock producers and their customers around the country. The Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN) aims to help connect the dots in this area to foster rural development and expand agricultural opportunities.

eXtension (pronounced e-extension) is a national initiative of the US Cooperative Extension System. The site provides research, news, and learning modules from land-grant universities nationwide.

Information is offered on a range of important issues for small meat processors and everyone who depends on them, including: processing rules & regulations; business development & workforce management; mobile processing units; detailed profiles of successful niche processors; more than 100 frequently asked Q&As, and; a "Ask the Expert" section for questions the site doesn't cover.

The site also featured bimonthly webinars, with upcoming topics focussing on efficient processing plant design, draft rules for interstate sales of state-inspected meats, a guide for producers to communicate effectively with their processors, and the what & how of certifications & labels for niche attributes.

Background: why NMPAN?

“The market for niche meats is growing steadily around the country as more livestock producers and consumers jump onboard. However, they often find a lack of appropriate infrastructure -- slaughterhouses and further processors -- to be the barrier,” said Lauren Gwin, Oregon State University researcher and a coordinator of the network.

The website combines new information with existing resources from Cooperative Extension and other sources including USDA, scientific literature, trade associations and nonprofit organisations.

by Natalie Berkhout

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